I trailed off toward the end of the year, didn’t get to a lot of the books that I wanted to crack open. Those are the breaks sometimes. I did manage to get to quite a few reads this year, 70+ (I got a little lax in the tracking department) tales of terror. Enough to put together a list of sorts.
I am a simple reader, and not of the caliber to tell you what can be considered “the best” reads, so here are a baker’s dozen of my favorite reads, regardless of review scoring. The lucky 13, the best times I had reading this year… in no particular order.
**Note: some of these books were not originally released in 2016.
5 somewhat interconnected stories combining gorgeous prose and the darkest of nightmares.
Eidolon Avenue: where the secretly guilty go to die.
One building. Five floors. Five doors per floor. Twenty-five nightmares feeding the hunger lurking between the bricks and waiting beneath the boards.
The First Feast. A retired Chinese assassin in apartment 1A fleeing from a lifetime of bloodshed. A tattooed man in 1B haunted by his most dangerous regret. A frat boy serial killer in 1C facing his past and an elderly married couple stumbling and wounded from fifty years of failed murder/suicide pacts in 1D. And, finally, a young girl in 1E whose quiet thoughts unleash unspeakable horror.
All thrown into their own private hell as every cruel choice, every deadly mistake, every drop of spilled blood is remembered, resurrected and relived to feed the ancient evil that lives on Eidolon Avenue.
Three short and sweet Sci-Fi diddys from one of my personal favorite writers.
3 Short stories from the author of Blood and Rain and Chasing Ghosts
What if they were out there? What if they were here first?
In these three short stories, Glenn Rolfe, author of BLOOD AND RAIN and CHASING GHOSTS, brings the visitors down from above and into our world. From birth to ascent, these beings are here and there is nowhere to run. Can we stand and fight or is it already too late?
Darkness is only a first contact away.
The Night Parade by Ronald Malfi
A beautiful novel concerning the end of humanity, this one made my cry.
First the birds disappeared.
Then the insects took over.
Then the madness began . . .
They call it Wanderer’s Folly–a disease of delusions, of daydreams and nightmares. A plague threatening to wipe out the human race.
After two years of creeping decay, David Arlen woke up one morning thinking that the worst was over. By midnight, he’s bleeding and terrified, his wife is dead, and he’s on the run in a stolen car with his eight-year-old daughter, who may be the key to a cure.
Ellie is a special girl. Deep. Insightful. And she knows David is lying to her. Lying about her mother. Lying about what they’re running from. And lying about what he sees when he takes his eyes off the road . . .
A novel released in the early 90’s and lost over time, resurrected and rereleased by Pete Khale’s Bloodshot Books’ Second Sight line, focusing on lost gems. This was an awesome read.
The Vyrmin Will Rise…
Hidden among us are the wicked. Their vile deeds have been retold from generation to generation down through the ages. They are hidden among us—evil men and women, always dangerous, always Wild. They are hidden among us—and they become beasts…during the Dark Times.
The Blood Prince Awakens…
One man is the key. He will renew the Hunt. But who is the Blood Prince? What horrific things happen when he enters the woods? Can anyone stop him? Will anyone even try?
The Dark Times are Nigh…
When the beasts that are men return to the Wild. When the beasts that are men return to the Hunt. When the Blood Prince takes the hand of his demon lover in the sky. When the screaming starts under the cold silver gaze of a pitiless, hungry moon.
The Vyrmin Will Feed!
Boys being boys at summer camp in this coming of age nightmare.
Purchase the Bloodshot Books edition
WELCOME TO THE BLACK MOUNTAIN CAMP FOR BOYS!
Summer,1989. It is a time for splashing in the lake and exploring the wilderness,for nine teenagers to bond together and create friendships that could last the rest of their lives.
But among this group there is a young man with a secret–a secret that,in this time and place,is unthinkable to his peers.
When the others discover the truth,it will change each of them forever. They will all have blood on their hands.
ODD MAN OUT is a heart-wrenching tale of bullies and bigotry,a story that explores what happens when good people don’t stand up for what’s right. It is a tale of how far we have come . . . and how far we still have left to go.
Awesome imagery of lucid nightmares haunt the book concerning an old hotel. A hell of a read.
Welcome to the Ballador Country House Hotel. Nestled in the highlands of Scotland, it is unlike any other lodging. Guests can expect wonderful scenery, gourmet food, and horrifying nightmares—guaranteed. Daring travelers pay thousands to stay within the Ballador’s infamous rooms because of the vivid and frightening dreams the accommodations inspire.
Before Josephine Teversham committed suicide, she made a reservation at the hotel for her husband, Australian magnate Victor Teversham. Once he arrives at the hotel, Victor finds himself the target of malevolent forces, revealing the nightmares—and their purpose—to be more strange, personal, and deadly than anyone could have guessed.
A gorgeous novel of a woman living a personal nightmare while stumbling into another. Dazzling & hypnotic.
In this haunting and hypnotizing novel, a young woman loses everything–half of her body, her fiancé, and possibly her unborn child–to a terrible apartment fire. While recovering from the trauma, she discovers a photo album inhabited by a predatory ghost who promises to make her whole again, all while slowly consuming her from the inside out
The title alone should pique your interest. A riotous read.
Reggie Levine, ex-boxer turned bouncer, and hapless hero, has barely recovered from his ordeal in Damn Dirty Apes, when he is called back to action. Recruited to retrieve a Chinese crested terrier from a fleapit roadside zoo, where the ugly effing showdog has been mistaken for the chupacabra, Reggie soon finds himself embroiled in a deadly criminal conspiracy involving neo-Nazi drug smugglers, a seedy used-car salesman, a wannabe serial killer, an ornery Vietnam veteran, a badass veterinarian, a freakishly endowed adult entertainment donkey named Enrique, and in an explosive cameo, an Academy Award winning Hollywood icon.
From Adam Howe, writer of Die Dog or Eat the Hatchet, Black Cat Mojo, and the winner of Stephen King’s On Writing contest, comes another hard-hitting slice of pulp Southern crime, 80s action, pop Americana, and pitch-black comedy.
A batshit off the wall novel/ autobiography who’s delivery was just as interesting as the contents. Released in nightly installments throughout the month of October, I went in not knowing what to expect and was still proven wrong. Sleep deprivation set to paper and ink.
Sleep is just a myth created by mattress salesmen. Isaac, a night auditor of a hotel somewhere in the surreal void of Texas, is sick and tired of his guests. When he clocks in at night, he’s hoping for a nice, quiet eight hours of Netflix-bingeing and occasional masturbation. What he doesn’t want to do is fetch anybody extra towels or dive face-first into somebody’s clogged toilet. And he sure as hell doesn’t want to get involved in some trippy owl conspiracy or dispose of any dead bodies. But hey…that’s life in the hotel business. Welcome to The Nightly Disease. Please enjoy your stay.
This quick read is naughty and disturbing at the outset, but when the seemingly random vignettes start to form connective tissue it’ll floor you.
The Lonely Motel holds many dark secrets… and Room 6 just might possess the worst of them all. Angel knows a lot about pain. His mother died in this room. He’s researched its history. He’s come back today to end it, no matter the cost, once and for all. Prostitute Shyla believes the stories Angel tells her can’t be true. Secrets so vile, you won’t want to let them inside you. But the Lonely Motel doesn’t forget. It doesn’t forgive. And it always claims its victim.
A late night horror host’s last night on the job as chronicled by a young man watching from home. A great set up and an enjoyable follow through.
You’re invited to experience ALL NIGHT TERROR. Don’t look for help, your weaker friends will be too scared to attend, but you’re in for the nightmare of your life. Sit down in front of the TV and prepare for a late-night odyssey of wicked shocks as a horror movie marathon becomes a bloodbath before your very eyes. It starts when a disgruntled cable host seizes control of a television station, determined to give his viewers an evening they won’t soon forget. One where monsters of all shapes and sizes rise up against mankind. One where deranged killers prowl the night for a variety of victims. And one where cinema itself haunts its creators and creations. Join modern horror stars Adam Cesare (Tribesmen, Zero Lives Remaining) and Matt Serafini (Feral, Island Red) as they bring you ten tales of fear that will have you shivering between the pages. All NIGHT TERROR—good to the last slash.
A superb collection of short fiction containing one of my all-time favorite shorts The First Rule of Showmanship. Don’t let this one get past you.
A collection of fifteen dark tales to delight and disturb horror fans of all stripes, spun from the bizarre imagination of author D.S. Ullery. “The First Rule of Showmanship”, a betrayal sends a professional clown down the path into madness, with horrifying consequences.
Book three of the Subdue series is the most compelling, adding depth and scope to the mythos. It’s a creature feature galore with a ton of backwoods mysticism. A very good time.
Dark things are dwelling in Jotham, Texas. Malicious forces are seen emerging from the sinister house on Oak Lee Road… With little memory of the events that took the lives of his friends, Bobby Weeks tries to move on with his life, and finds a job at a warehouse on Galveston Island. The evil in Jotham won’t leave him behind, though. Strangers from the cursed town find him, offering information about what happened to his friends. It all leads back to Baelo University…back to Jotham. Luna Blanche has always been gifted, but now she must use those gifts to save Bobby… Luna goes to the Mississippi Delta to take care of her dying grandmother. She misses Bobby, and when she attempts to see Bobby through her mind, all she finds is a deadly future. Fearing his life is in danger, she leaves the Delta and searches for him in Jotham. Neville and Boris Petry want nothing more than the picturesque American Dream… After Boris accepts a new job teaching at Baelo University, the Petrys move to Jotham to finally live out their dream. Following a drunken faculty party, Neville discovers she is pregnant. She should be ecstatic, but dreadful dreams lead her to feel as if something is wrong with the baby, her husband…and the school. Four destinies bound on a collision course, a plot conceived in the shadows of Jotham…and an evil biding its time…waiting for them all.
There you have it, my 13 favorite reads of the year. If you happen to take a chance on any of these books let me know, tell me if you agree, tell me if you don’t. Oh, wait… what the heck is this…
I couldn’t close out the year without giving these books another nod.
Six tales from six era’s differing in tone linked by a common desire. An awesome read, just wait till you get to the cult leader story.
*** Their lands plagued by invaders, the Inca resort to an ancient ritual. By harvesting star dust from people, they hope to accumulate enough to raise the sun god, Inti, and reclaim their lands. Yet when the collection is interrupted, it sets in motion events which will rattle human history. Six stories. Six different time periods. One outcome. ***
We are all made of stars.
When an ancient Inca ritual is interrupted, it sets in motion a series of events that will echo through five hundred years of human history. Many seek to use the arcane knowledge for their own ends, from a survivor of a shipwreck, through to a suicide cult.
An awesome Revenge yarn hunting the elusive cryptids.
Deep in the murky waters of Loch Ness, the creature known as Nessie has returned. Twins Natalie and Austin McQueen watched in horror as their parents were devoured by the world’s most infamous lake monster. Two decades later, it’s their turn to hunt the legend. But what lurks in the Loch is not what they expected. Nessie is devouring everything in and around the Loch, and it’s not alone. Hell has come to the Scottish Highlands. In a fierce battle between man and monster, the world may never be the same.
A great collection of short fiction with more than a few catching me in the feels.
Sleep Paralysis: A transitional state between wakefulness and sleep, accompanied by powerful hallucinations and muscle weakness, preventing one from moving. A website that specializes in suffering. A basement filled with secrets and bones. An apartment housing more than just ghosts. These are the stories that stay with you long after you’ve read them. These are the things that visit your dreams. And nightmares …
Love, lust, and torment in a glorious vision of hell.
Rhea Harmon is a living target for the Devil as she possesses the power to detect one’s deadliest sin at first glance. Intended to be used as a weapon of war, the Devil sends Paimon, his right-hand man and top collector, to claim her soul and bring her to him in Hell. But the Devil isn’t the only one who is interested in Rhea. When Paimon arrives to collect her soul, he’s immediately taken with her and the resemblance she bears to his late-wife, Marissa. He falls in love with the mortal girl whose soul he is supposed to claim, and instead vows to protect her, thereby severing his allegiance to the Devil and sealing his fate as a traitor. Consumed by rage and fear, Paimon and Arazel, the Devil’s blood slave and ring leader to the circle of Lust, flee Hell in an attempt to save Rhea, but are instead forced to confront their pasts and their presents as they reevaluate the definition of sin and punishment. So what happens when a demon has to confront his demons, when Paimon has to turn to something darker, something more sinister for help? After centuries of living in exile, banned from their home and their right to rule, The Seven, the keepers of the deadly sins, are only too happy to answer his call, and if Paimon thought it was dangerous to make a deal with the Devil, then he had no idea what it meant to be blessed by the creators of sin.
A dark a dangerous read. It pushes boundaries and tests your faith.
Armageddon has come and gone.
There is no hope here.
This is The Eighth day.
Lili walks a fine line between what’s real and what’s not. Her religious parents try to fix her disturbing fantasies with prayers and scriptures. But Lili isn’t suffering from fantasies, and her family isn’t going to be able to save her as she fights for her sanity and for her life. The whispers are real, the nightmares are more than what they seem, and The Being waiting in the shadows wants to pull her into the darkness forever.
But reality is much more sinister than any of her nightmares. Lili isn’t the only one who hears whispers in the dark. Her parents pray to a god who has abandoned them. The demons do not live in the bible, nor do they hide in the shadows any longer. They are in minds of men. Whispering in their ears, a part of their very souls.
The whispers become louder, the nightmares bleed into reality, and this presence refuses to be ignored.
Deliciously wicked little treats that will make you sick to your stomach.
Paul loves Jane with his whole heart.
In his eyes, she’s perfection personified.
When Jane is cruelly cut down in the prime of her life, Paul is devastated. Facing the world alone, he’s falling into a pit of misery he may never get out of alive.
But Paul has a plan…a way to mend his broken heart and put things right. It’s going to require a touch of courage and the cover of night. Not to mention a little bending of the rules, a little determination…
And a lot of digging…
Alright, that’s it. I done, for real this time. I look forward to an ambitious year reading and I generously thank you for joining me on the ride. Until we meat again…
Zakk is a big dumb animal!